The Eid al-Fitr holiday is about to begin, and while it’s not clear whether or not this really has anything to do with it, Hamas is calling for a one day time out in the hostilities.
Hamas announced Sunday that it has agreed to a 24-hour holiday truce in Gaza, hours after Israel resumed its ground offensive and airstrikes against the militant group for firing a salvo of rockets at the southern part of the country.
The truce began at 7 a.m. ET. Hamas hit back at Israel earlier in the day during a previous 24-hour cease-fire window…
Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, an Israeli army spokesman, did not say if Israel would hold its fire during the time requested by Hamas, but said troops would continue demolishing Hamas military tunnels.
“Due to Hamas’ incessant rocket fire during the humanitarian window, we are renewing our aerial, naval, and ground activity in Gaza,” an Israel Defense Forces spokesman tweeted earlier Sunday before the new truce was announced. The next tweet read, “The IDF has repeatedly urged the civilian population of Gaza not to approach combat zones.”
It doesn’t look like this has anything to do with John Kerry’s efforts (shocking, I know) but it’s also not clear if this is even an attempt of any sort by Hamas to get to a longer standing state of peace. Further, it’s difficult to see what durable incentive either side has for stopping right now. In the short term, there is the obvious, pressing imperative to stop fighting if only to put an end to people dying, but what about the long term goals?
Israel would seem to have little incentive to back off while there are still tunnels to be destroyed and weapons to be found. And even that goal only leads to a longer pause – be it weeks, months or a couple of years – before the same cycle begins again. And that course looks even more dubious if North Korea is actually in the midst of a deal to provide weapons to Hamas.
Hamas, for their part, seems to feel they are actually winning in the longer view, with no possibility of a measurable gain to be had from calling this off. There is no concession coming from Israel to act as a bargaining chip. One of their chief goals – that of getting Israel to end the blockade – is clearly not going to be put on the table. In the meantime, they have the hope of continuing to wage a media war to try to turn the world’s opinion against Israel and possibly – while highly unlikely – try to draw a more powerful ally such as Turkey into the fray on their side.
This episode should lead to an eventual, inevitable cease-fire, just as it always has in the past. But that solves nothing in the long run, and for the short term, it’s hard to imagine what incentive either side has to shut this down today.